How to best handle being asked to change paid-for flight seats?

On my last trip to Disney, ORD to MCO, I was in first someone a few rows ahead of me was asked to switch. He declined. Then I was asked. I said no, thank you. The hostess then doubled down by saying it was so a child could sit next to her dad.

I replied that I am also sitting with my family, and I pointed to my DH and DS across the aisle. To which hostess rolled her eyes and said that the child was younger than mine, as if that was the definitive end to the discussion.

I opened my mouth to tell them that I suffer from severe anxiety and panic attacks and that I need to crush my DH’s hand during takeoff/landing when DH saw her stiffen her back and cock her hip to the side. He told me it wasn’t worth her calling the Marshalls on me and that I should decide if this was worth me possibly being kicked off the plane, phones recording the “Karen” refusing to switch a seat in first class.

So I moved and sat next to someone, and cried all throughout lift off and landing sure that I would not be able to comfort my child if any thing were to go wrong with the flight.

I had booked my flights months in advance and we were very particular about where the seats would be so we had a wall behind us so no one could cough on us and we could sit together. In fact, we were the first ones to choose, as we had full pick of where we wanted.

Why then was I asked to move to accommodate someone who could have either chosen another flight or sat not in first class to accommodate their party? Why did she pick me as the weak willed person who will give in. She didn’t pull the child card with the first guy she asked? Why not bump one of the people who probably got the free upgrade instead of picking on someone who paid the full amount expecting to be with her family?


How awful! Just to clarify, was the seat you were changed to also in first class?

Meaning why do people book broken up seats expecting that there would be a solo traveler there to swap? And why then, if that person ends up traveling with their family is that person still expected to move because of someone else’s poor execution of planning?


Yes. First to first, but away from my overhead luggage (the least of my concerns, but extra time waiting to be able to go and help DH since we didn’t check any luggage.)


In all seriousness, the flight attendants are trained to read peoples facial/body language for threat reasons and I suspect that a side effect of this is that they know who the people likely to give in (or who can be bullied into giving in) are. So if it seems like you’re (not you specifically, a generalized you) often the target, it’s because you are.


Do you think I could have been removed off the flight if I, and I stress politely, refused moving citing emotional issues of needing DH and DS next to me?

Not yelling or kicking or screaming. Just saying no, thank you.

1 Like

I don’t think anyone can be removed from a flight without cause


No. You have to obey crew instructions. This was a request. If it came down to it and they said, “you must move,” then you shouldn’t resist. But as long as they’re asking, you’re ok to politely refuse.


Also I think if you had brought this up, they probably would have moved on.


Nope. Now, had you taken a swing at the FA when she gave you 'tude, then maybe…but beyond that, they can’t kick you off for refusing to switch a seat you’ve paid for.

Imagine the PR Nightmare they’d be creating for themselves.


It’s all fun and games until the gag reflex gets triggered and the three dollar sushi comes back to say hi to the two rows in front of you.


I think we need to talk about why you’re eating $3 sushi in the first place. That doesn’t sound like fun and games at all.




What everyone else already said. And i suspect that if you had said something to the tune of “i didn’t see you lecturing that other guy about the age of the child” they would’ve backed off.


also feel free to “talk to yourself” while arguing.

“No, no. No I’d rather not change sea—No, the pink elephants don’t dance the lambada, what are you even talking about?-- I’m sorry, I really don’t want to change seats.”

and twitch!


Yeah, don’t do this. THIS will get you kicked off a flight… :rofl:




I get that a younger child may need more attention but that doesn’t mean that your own child does not need it at all. I’m a bit disturbed that the flight attendant brought this up to only her. Also, I bet there were 2 people in economy sitting next to each other that would gladly swap seats and sit separate in first (I being one of them, sorry DH, catch ya when the flight is over).


Oh, that’s awful. I wish people would understand that adults might have issues with flying too and that they might need the comfort of family. My 15 yo DS could care less if he is sitting with us, but one of my adult DD’s would have a panic attack if she sat next to a stranger.


I have been on both sides of this in the past several months. While traveling with DS13 I burned my last two A-group upgrades for the year on Southwest so that we could sit together on the sold-out flight after I got a lousy boarding group. On that flight they were looking for people to move (and I might have abandoned him if I thought I could get my upgrades back) but I admit I did not volunteer.

In October in the midst of Southwest’s meltdown we got stuck in Orlando an extra day. We rebooked on a 6 AM and 11:30 AM flights and overnight the system cancelled my DD8’s companion ticket for our first flight, and I couldn’t add her back since it was full. Yes I knew better than to have us booked on 2 flights but flights were getting cancelled right and left and we needed to get home. So we had to wait in an extensive full-service line when we got to the airport to get her on as standby and then wait in line at the gate as well. We were probably the last people on the plane, we being myself, DS12, DD8 and DD4. And I was so grateful that someone did move so that at least DD4 could sit by me. I guess I’m just trying to say, I understand the unfairness of being asked to move and I’m no angel myself, but there are times when the situation is out of a parents control and when it’s been my kids I have been so grateful for the generosity and compassion of others.
Wouldn’t it be nice though if flight attendants had the ability to sweeten the deal somehow, like a free drink or free upgraded boarding on the next flight for those who volunteer to move?